Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Back Pain - Assisted Stretches


Walk slowly forward, pushing the legs back with your thighs

Martial artists like to do a lot of stretching. One of the pioneers of American kickboxing, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, spent an hour a day stretching for his famous kicks. Practitioners of Indian Kalaripayattu will go through a series of Yoga-like stretches to enhance their amazing flexibility.

Martial artists also use stretches to heal… themselves… and others. Especially when we experience back and hip problems. In fact, where back and hip problems persist, I always recommend two things – 1. first check with a doctor; 2. then, with an OK from the doctor, design – and stick to - a daily back maintenance program. Stretching usually plays an important role in back health maintenance.

The following is a step-by-step introduction to a very common assisted back and hip stretch that we use. Of course, you can perform these stretches on your own. However, one part of the body always experiences a bit of tension while pressing or while holding the opposite leg down. It's easier if a partner does the work for you. You'll be able to relax into the stretch -

1.  Gently warm and massage the back and hips first. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE SPINE.

2.  Place the soles of your partner's feet against your thighs. Walk slowly toward your partner until the legs are bent back. Hold from 30 seconds to a minute.



Gently push down on left shoulder and leg


3.  Your partner stretches her arms out to either side. She then crosses her left leg over her right, turning her head away from the leg on top. Very gently, push down on both her left shoulder and the leg on top. Hold from 30 seconds up to a minute.

4.  Now your partner crosses her right leg over her left leg. Very gently, do the same as you did in #3, opposite hands and legs. Hold from 30 seconds up to a minute.


5.  Return to #2. Hold from 30 seconds to a minute.


Gently push down on the left shoulder and both legs

6. Similar to #3, except that both legs are bent to the right side. Hold from 30 seconds up to a minute.

7. Similar to #3 except that both legs are bent to the left side. Hold from 30 seconds up to a minute.

8.  Return to #2. Hold from 30 seconds to a minute.


Some martial artists, who have practised for many years, develop a deep sensitivity to the health of others. While learning to throw an opponent, they’ve also learned to detect problems in an opponent’s muskulo-skeletal system; while learning to strike the liver, they’ve also learned to detect problems with the internal organs; while learning to strike a pressure point to knock an opponent out, they’ve also learned to revive someone using the same pressure point.

In traditional martial arts, self defense and health go hand in hand. I’m looking forward to sharing more of these techniques with you!

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